Summary: Exposition of Deut 15 regarding our duty to aid those less fortunate, related to our vision statement with the same subject matter
Text: Deut 15:1-18, Title: Except When There Be No Poor Among You, Date/Place: NRBC, 1/31/10, AM
A. Opening illustration: “shirt off his back” we say it a lot but it usually never happens that way, tell the story of Gary Tryon and Bill and that last $100
B. Background to passage: the whole book is a string of sermons that Moses preached on the edge of the promised land to the new generation of Israelites that had not died in the wilderness. And so many of the instructions, warnings, blessings, and covenants were reiterated in this book. Chapter 14 closes with some instruction on tithing and offerings in Jerusalem. And so it is an easy jump to dealings with the poor. An interesting note here is that the Lord indicates that the only time that these don’t apply is when there are no poor among you. The ideal situation is that we are sharing and meeting needs among us as the early church did, and there is no poverty around us—what a thought!
C. Main thought: Since the ideal is not reality now, esp in this economy, how then shall we live?
A. Do not harden your heart (v. 7)
1. The word “harden” here is to make strong like a rock. God says don’t try to kill your own Christ like compassion toward the poor. He has a special place in his heart for the poor, downtrodden, and oppressed. And those being transformed by Christ will have compassion toward those people unless they harden their hearts and close their hands. This is a blameworthy and culpable act, and you will be held accountable.
2. Heb 3:15
3. Illustration: “kindness to the poor for his sake! Where that has been, penitence and faith have wrought out in love. Where that has not been, there has been no love, and, consequently, neither faith nor penitent obedience. It is not necessary to be openly wicked and profane, in order to incur rejection by the Great Judge at last”
4. We are good at self-justification. When we see or know of a need, we come up with lots of good reasons why we shouldn’t help: not enough $$, prob buy alcohol/drugs, might harm me, would embarrass them, don’t know how to approach, don’t have any cash, in a hurry, they should get a job, etc. But in some sense, that is hardening your heart, and closing up your hand
B. Watch out for wickedness and greed (v. 9)
1. The word for wicked means worthless, as having nothing good of moral value, therefore wicked, evil, wretched, and vile. So not only is closing your hand due to hardness of heart, it is due to wickedness in your heart. And Jesus linked treasure and hearts together. And therefore these actions from within also demonstrate our greed.
3. Illustration: the deputies spoke of a reserve deputy who never lifted a finger when the officer he was with was involved in a struggle with a guy they were trying to arrest, cost him his work…one time we were getting ready to go on a trip, and had money saved just for that purpose, then noticed a fellow church member who needed it more than we did, and we struggled with greed in our hearts.
4. It could be an indication of your heart condition, hard or lost. Therefore to see a need and withdrawn your mind to other things is wickedness and greed in your hearts. It’s one thing if you can’t meet a need, it’s another if you turn away. God calls you wicked and greedy, your heart is not right
C. Blessings lost, judgment coming (v. 9-10)
1. Next God says that judgment will come upon those who have to give and do not give it. He says that the poor man (the one that you could have helped if you had not gone out to eat so much this week, or the ones that the church could have helped, but you didn’t give so that we could) would cry out to God, and although He doesn’t say He will judge, that is the implication. Then in the next verse, He will bless you if you are faithful to help those with needs.
2. Pro 21:13, Job 9:4
3. There will be judgment that day upon those of us who don’t do what we can to help the poor. We can solve poverty in the world or in the country, or even in the state, but we can help here. And I know that there are some that do that, but most of us don’t do it like we should, because our hearts don’t love what God loves, His poor. God will bless you if you keep his commands, if you are faithful to give. It’s kinda like tithing, if you give to your local church to use as it sees fit, the Lord will open up the windows of heaven.